Fitness Project, Part II: The Goal. The Plan. The Team.

“Yeah…you gotta be less…people.” Louis C.K., Chewed Up

       My reoccurring stress dream.

In Part I, we discussed my Current State I listed my issues and statistics. I set the baselines and blockers to good health & fitness. Then it was time for a cherry danish. The ones with the lemon frosting, and the repressed childhood memories.  Once I stress-ate my tasty treat, it was time to outline my goals and plan of action. I needed documentation and resources to ensure my project remained on course, and true to its stated objectives.  It was critical to solidify realistic expectations – with quantifiable results. These results would provide the much-needed motivation to continue along this journey.

Goal weight: 160lbs

Waist: Unsure – so long as the hips still preach the truth

Eating habits: 50% reduction in calories from sugars and carbohydrates

Muscle: 5-10lbs of lean muscle, possibly accentuated with baby oil

I also wanted to run faster and farther. I love to run. This is important for anyone trying lose weight or launch a new fitness regime: do an activity you love. Any sport. Integrate it within your weekly routine. I was a terrible runner. My pace was undisciplined and unpredictable (I was running 6-7 minute/km). The farthest I could reach was perhaps 10km – and this included numerous stops, cramps, and a fanny pack containing mini-cherry danishes. But I loved it. I enjoy every minute of my runs.  Even after I discovered that it wasn’t people clapping and applauding as I ran… but rather the sound from each stride of my cherubim thighs.

My goals were somewhat broad. I didn’t know how long a significant change would take – but I committed to an initial project schedule of 12 months, with daily monitoring and weekly check-ins.

The Plan. The Team.

I invested in a personal trainer. Now, this is not for everyone. She did not have danishes on-site. I knew how to lift. I knew how to use the machines. I respected the process. I’ve had many gym memberships over the years – never with personal training sessions, however.  The reasons for this were two-fold; I needed a control mechanism – someone or something to track (weight, measurements) my progress and provide the unbiased criticism and feedback each week (i.e. ‘put down the fork, David’). I also knew that a good personal trainer is up-to-date with best practices, and the most effective exercises, other than skip rope and bench-press. Similar to an SME (subject matter expert) that advises the team with updates on the latest software patches, upgrades or practices.  I needed someone with extensive knowledge and expertise…and her name was cherry Marci.

Here’s something interesting; apparently, food is a resource to fuel your body and sustain your cells. Too much of the wrong fuel disrupts the engine. You shouldn’t need to cancel your afternoon due of something you ate. Marci explained, that to lose weight, one needs to control this intake. 95% of weight-loss is nutrition. Exercise is important to tone and strengthen – but only accounts for about 5% of your general weight-loss results.

I always assumed it was 50/50 – or 40/60 at best. I was living in a fantasy.

My nutrition and routine changed. Not overnight – but over the course of 3-4 sprints. I took an iterative approach to avoid crashing.  I checked-in and recorded my results once a week. I introduced a new variable each week to gauge its impact. I continued to refine my daily regime and menu. I cut desserts. Then I added it back for weekends only. Then down to only Sunday evenings. Then I yelled at the people I love most. I then increased my intake of processed sugars/desserts to just Saturday and Sunday. The yelling subsided.

After about a month, daily protein shakes were introduced. After a few weeks, they replaced breakfast. White flour was cut to 1-3 times per week. A variety of proteins and vegetables were added to my daily intake. Dried fruit was a go-to treat. I only looked at photos of cherry danishes.

These adjustments were gradual. It’s important to stress that nothing was implemented ‘cold turkey’. The result of each variation was recorded and compared against a prior week for effectiveness (these were my burn down charts! Haha…thank you…I will see myself out). Plans for further changes were discussed during weekly sprint planning sessions with Marci prior to beginning our workout.  Throughout the first few months, Marci also kick-started my fitness with a strong focus on cardiovascular-based exercises. There were lots of sandbags and pylons. So many pylons.

The number and length of each workout was adjusted. I moved to 5 workouts per week, 40 minutes each, plus my weekly session with Marci. For variety, I mixed in a series of INSANITY workouts.  The profanities shouted at my laptop during these workouts were ‘creative’ to say the least.  I hated Shaun T. But now I have shoulders, so there’s that.

Last summer I completed the Sporting Life 10K race with a time of 46:32. As of January 2017, my average pace is 4:16/km. I don’t hear anything clapping behind me anymore. Gonna miss my bi-pedal cheerleader.

This process was repeated over and over – for 16 months. Yes, there were times when results were not as expected or my will was crushed into a puddle of tiny, tiny tears.  I blame these on QA.  However, like any project, things seldom go according to plan; a deliverable may be delayed (vacation/scheduling), change requests needed (adapting exercises due to injury), and bugs can set a project back (the flu).

Stretching is very important.

Next time…

Part III: Project Close and Long Term Support

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